San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted to create a new fire evacuation route for Ramona just as peak fire season begins.
Ramona residents said this is something they sorely need, especially after people were stuck for hours in traffic as wildfires burned towards them in October 2007.
As residents hurried to evacuate nearly five years ago, they hit a wall of cars on Main Street before being able to get to highway 67, one of the few routes out.
“It took them four hours to get from one end of the town to the other. And that's what a 7 - 8 minute drive,” said Ramona resident Jama McCluskey. “In '07 it was gridlock; it was like a parking lot. Nobody could move. This gives people another option to go around Main Street.”
See the proposed fire evacuation route here
The new route, introduced by the Ramona Planning Group and supported by Supervisor Dianne Jacob, links Montecito Way to Rangeland Road using an unpaved road north of the Ramona Airport.
The board of supervisors approved county executives to negotiate use of the road as an evacuation route, in hopes of savings lives. It’s an option around Main Street, but also a possible route out of Ramona on Highland Valley road down to Rancho Bernardo.
New gravel may also be added to allow the road to handle more vehicles.
The Ramona Planning Group’s Matt Deskovick said can't believe it took so long, over two years.
“We had to deal with fish and game, parks and rec, and water district and county of San Diego, and then everyone has their hand in the cookie jar trying to make it as difficult as possible,” he said.
But Deskovick is glad that the route won't cost too much money and he's relieved some of the congestion on Main St. in the event of an emergency.
There is another step in the process, the Ramona Water District must agree on the route because it crosses their property, but Supervisor Jacobs says they are working on getting this approved quickly.